The Osteopath

Osteopathic Philosophy: a concept of health care supported by expanding scientific knowledge that embraces the concept of the unity of the living organism’s structure (anatomy) and function (physiology).


Osteopathic Principles


The osteopathic medical philosophy is defined as the concept of health care that embraces the concept of the unity of the living organism's structure (anatomy) and function (physiology). The following are the four major principles of osteopathic medicine:

  1. The body is an integrated unit of mind, body, and spirit.
  2. The body possesses self-regulatory mechanisms, having the inherent capacity to defend, repair, and remodel itself.
  3. Structure and function are reciprocally interrelated.
  4. Rational therapy is based on consideration of the first three principles.

These principles are not held by osteopathic physicians to be empirical laws; they serve, rather, as the underpinnings of the osteopathic philosophy on health and disease.


Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment


Osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT), or simply "osteopathic treatment", is the therapeutic application of manually guided forces to the body by an osteopathic physician to improve physiologic function and/or support homeostasis that has been altered by somatic dysfunction.

Somatic dysfunction is defined as impaired or altered function of related components of the somatic (body framework) system: skeletal, arthrodial (joints) and myofascial (muscle and connective tissue) structures and their related vascular, lymphatic and neural elements.




To become a D.O., an individual must graduate from one of the nation's osteopathic medical schools, accredited by the American Osteopathic Association's Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation. This accreditation is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.  The curriculum at osteopathic medical schools consists of four years of academic study. Reflecting osteopathic philosophy, the curriculum emphasizes preventive medicine and comprehensive patient care. Throughout the curriculum, osteopathic medical students learn to use osteopathic principles and osteopathic manipulative treatment to diagnose illness and treat patients.

After completing osteopathic medical school, D.O's obtain graduate medical education through internships, residencies and fellowships. D.O's specialize in all areas of medicine, ranging from such primary care disciplines as family medicine, general internal medicine, and pediatrics to such specialized disciplines as surgery, radiology, oncology and psychiatry.

D.O's receive extra training in the musculoskeletal system—your body's interconnected system of nerves, muscles and bones that makes up two - thirds of your body mass. This training provides osteopathic physicians with a better understanding of how an illness or injury in one part of your body can affect other parts.



Andrew Taylor Still, DO
Founder of Osteopathic Medicine


Andrew Taylor Still, D.O. (August 6, 1828 – December 12, 1917) is considered the father of osteopathy and osteopathic medicine. Over his lifetime, he was also a physician & surgeon, author, inventor and Kansas territorial & state legislator. He was one of the founders of Baker University, the oldest 4-year college in the state of Kansas, and was the founder of the American School of Osteopathy (now A.T. Still University), the world's first osteopathic medical school and hospital, in Kirksville, Missouri.

Still believed that osteopathy was a necessary discovery, because the current medical practices of his day often caused significant harm and conventional medicine had failed to shed light on the etiology and effective treatment of disease.

At the time A.T. Still practiced as a physician, medications, surgery, and other traditional therapeutic regimens often caused more harm than good. Some of the medicines commonly given to patients during this time often resulted in more deaths than cures. Dr. Still sought to reform existing 19th century medical practices. He investigated alternative treatments, such as hydropathy, diet, bone-setting, and magnetic healing. Still found appeal in the relatively tame side effects of those modalities, and imagined that someday "rational medical therapy" would consist of manipulation of the musculoskeletal system, surgery and very sparingly used drugs. 

He invented the name "osteopathy" by blending two Greek roots: osteon for bone, and pathos for suffering, in order to communicate his theory that disease and physiologic dysfunction were etiologically grounded in a disordered musculoskeletal system. Thus, by diagnosing and treating the musculoskeletal system, he believed that physicians could treat a variety of diseases and spare patients the negative side-effects of drugs. 

A.T. Still founded the first school of osteopathy based on this new approach to medicine - the school was called the American School of Osteopathy (A.S.O.) (now A.T. Still University) in Kirksville, Missouri in 1892. Interestingly also, close to half of the first class of the A.S.O. were women, something that was very uncommon in medicine at the time. Still was also one of the first physicians to promote the idea of preventative medicine and the philosophy that physicians should focus on treating the disease rather than just the symptoms.